Jessica Khoury is on top of the world. Well, the world of Young Adult fiction, at least. Her novel, Origin, was released in 2012, and she has gained acclaim from both readers and critics. I originally came across this book on the shelf in Barnes & Noble, and I was so intrigued that I contacted Jessica to see if she would be willing to visit Writing Belle and discuss her work. Lucky for us - she was! She graciously took the time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions, and to give us the deets to the novel that she released this year, Vitro - a companion novel to Origin. Origin. From the cover design to the premise, I love the idea of this book. Where did your inspiration come from? Origin began as a bolt-of-lightning idea that struck me one day as I was taking a walk. An image came into my mind of a girl named Pia trapped by glass walls and surrounded by jungle, and I was so entranced by her that I asked myself questions about her until the entire story came together in my mind. Then I turned around, ran home, and began writing the first chapter that day.
Immortality. It's a popular dream! What is Pia's motivation? What makes her such a riveting heroine? At the beginning of the story, Pia's motivation is to create more immortals like herself, because her greatest fear is that one day everyone she loves will die while she lives on forever. But her motivation begins to shift when she starts to question how her immortality came about, and what the true cost of living forever is--especially when she falls in love with a mortal.
Pia's world changes when she meets Eio. Tell us a little about him - I'm sure he makes the story much more interesting! *wink* Eio is basically like a young Tarzan, who grew up running wild in the jungle. He's very energetic and loves to show off, and likes nothing more than to take Pia to new places in the jungle and share his world with her.
Now for some writing questions. What was your journey to publication like? How did you get interested in writing? I have wanted to be a writer since I was four years old, and it seems everything in my life has lead to writing. I wrote a few novels before Origin that did not sell, but which helped me learn to become a better writer. After I wrote Origin, I found a literary agent who sold it to Penguin, a process which took about a week after we spent a month editing the manuscript.
Who inspires you as a writer? What do you enjoy reading and watching? I really love everything sci-fi and fantasy, and am a huge fan of shows like Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, and Orphan Black. There are two writers whom I look up to as inspiration: Robin Hobb and Lois McMaster Bujold. Both are women who write incredibly complex, poignant books in the mostly male-dominated genre of sci-fi and fantasy, and whose books I read over and over again!
Advice! What tips can you offer novelists who write in your genre? When writing science fiction, it's important to do your research! Always assume your reader is smarter than you are (and believe me, many of them are!) So it pays to double check your sources, get your facts, and talk to experts.
Vitro - your most recent novel - released last October. Can you briefly summarize it for us? Vitro is the story of a girl named Sophie Crue, who dreams of reuniting with her mother. For most of Sophie's life, her mom has worked on a secret island in the South Pacific for Corpus, the same biotech company that created Pia in Origin. When Sophie gets an email from her mother telling her that there's been an emergency and she needs Sophie's help, Sophie risks everything to find her. But when she arrives on the island where her mother works, instead of finding her mom, she finds a scientifically enhanced twin of herself named Lux, whom she never knew existed. Now Sophie must discover who Lux is and why her mother has been lying to her all her life.
About the Author Jessica Khoury is 23 years old and was born and raised in Georgia. She attended public school followed by homeschooling, and earned her bachelor's degree in English from Toccoa Falls College. She lives in Toccoa, Georgia with her husband Benjamin, two terrible dogs, and an abundance of books, shoes, and sweet tea. When not writing, she's usually directing stageplays or coaching soccer. Origin is her first novel.